Last week marked the beginning of the summer reading program at our local library. It is something my kids look forward to all year, and it never fails to provide entertainment and fun. Usually the program is filled with visits from zoo animals, circus clowns, talking birds and amazing magicians. When we've had as much fun as we can stand, the program wraps up carnival games and waterslides in the park. Last summer's carnival comes to mind often because of a woman I saw while I was there. A beautiful woman. The kind of beauty you remember a whole year later. We had been at the park for an hour or two during midday in August, and the heat was stifling. My kids had been on the waterslide plenty of times, and I was really ready to go home when I saw her. I was absolutely riveted, and I couldn't tear my eyes away from this woman. I can only imagine what picture you are seeing in your head right now. Are you picturing a tall blonde with a supermodel figure and long thick hair? Maybe a brunette who is a perfect "10?" The woman whose image sticks with me a whole year later isn't any of those things. As a matter of fact, she is barely over 5 feet tall, and is a gray-headed grandma with thick glasses and a no-nonsense hairdo. He name is Ms. Gwen, and she is our head librarian. On that sticky August day a little girl with severe visual impairment stood at the bottom of the waterslide listening to the children squeal with delight as they slid into the pool at the bottom. She held her white cane close to her side and waited, resigned to missing the fun. Her mother wasn't physically able to help her climb the steps to the top, and she wouldn't be able to find her way on her own. Without a second of hesitation Ms. Gwen, fully clothed, took the little girl's hand and guided her up the steps of the slide. Seconds later they were both at the bottom soaking wet and laughing uncontrollably. They slid again and again, until the other children caught Ms. Gwen's lesson in kindness and they began taking turns with the little girl. I think the memory of that little woman, with soaking clothes and wet hair plastered to her head, will stay with me as one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Lord, let having that kind of beauty matter more to me than having a beautiful physical appearance.
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